Also called fever blisters, you don’t get cold sores from fevers or colds but they can be triggered by them. The virus that causes cold sores is usually passed via a kiss, shared utensils, or other close contact. Over-the-counter creams and ointments may help discomfort and speed healing. Frequent sores may require a prescription. Cold sores are a top mouth problem. Other problems include canker sores, TMJ, bad breath, and mouth cancer.
Caused by candida yeast, thrush is most common in older adults or babies. But a weakened immune system, antibiotics, diabetes, or certain medications — such as inhaled corticosteroids — can give candida a chance to grow wild. Wiping away the patches will cause soreness. See a doctor for a firm diagnosis.
Black hairy tongue
This painless condition occurs when the little bumps on your tongue grow long and trap bacteria that live in your mouth — making the tongue look black and hairy. Causes can include antibiotic use, poor oral hygiene, smoking, drinking a lot of tea or coffee, and not producing enough saliva. Brushing the tongue and using a tongue scraper is usually all you need to treat it, though sometimes medication is necessary.
No one knows what causes these small, painful blisters inside your mouth. Triggers include hypersensitivity, infection, hormones, stress, and not getting enough of some vitamins. Also called aphthous ulcers, canker sores can show up on the tongue, cheek, even your gums. They usually last a week or two. Persistent, severe canker sores can be treated with numbing creams, prescription drugs, or dental lasers.
Leukoplakia is a reaction to an irritant, like rough teeth, badly fitting dentures, smoking, and smokeless tobacco. It can show up as white patches or plaques in the mouth, is usually painless, and can’t be scraped off. Leukoplakia can also be a precancerous condition. Persistent patches or other changes in your mouth need a dentist’s evaluation.
A rare rash that shows up as lacy, white patches or red shiny bumps on the inside of the cheeks or tongue could be lichen planus. No one knows what causes it. Generally, mild lichen planus doesn’t need any treatment. If it causes pain or ulcers, it can be treated with oral and topical medication. Oral lichen planus can be chronic and may increase the risk for oral cancer. Lichen planus can also affect skin, scalp, nails, and genitals.
When parts of your tongue are missing some of their small bumps, you end up with raised and lowered spots, giving your tongue a map-like appearance. The spots can change location, pattern, and size within minutes to hours. Geographic tongue is harmless and can come and go. It usually doesn’t need any treatment. If there’s pain, over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can help.